The expansion from the small Jebel Ali Primary School to the purpose-built Jebel Ali School - offering a Secondary School - was a bold move by any standards, let alone in today’s tough financial climate.
Yet, with Parr and Doughty at the helm, the JAPS 2016 metamorphosis from 650 student primary - to the 1,800 plus capacity 21st century through school JAS is proving the nay-sayers wrong.
If you want proof, there is no better validation than the views of parents. We have yet to receive a negative comment since the school moved to its new premises. For parent views of the school, go here.
How long have you worked in the UAE?
Parr: I moved to Dubai in March 2010 from the U.K. I started work here at Jess Jumeirah and I loved it!
Doughty: I have worked in the UAE for 15 years
What made you choose the education sector?
Parr: I come from a family of educators and it seemed a natural choice for me. I studied Psychology as a degree due to my interest in child development and human behaviour.
Following that I took a gap year and I chose to do voluntary work in a Special School for Moderate and Severe Learning Needs. That work truly inspired me to work in education; my chosen path was in mainstream education but with a passion for supporting children with the greatest need and challenge.
Doughty: Always wanted to be a teacher from a very early age. Went to university just so that I could become a teacher (although was not great at school myself). Got a job that made me go to night school so then I decided it was time to work and to get the necessary entry qualifications. This experience is probably the biggest driver form me… giving children the chance, opportunity and confidence to learn and believe that they can succeed. I nearly missed my life-long passion due to lack of belief and encouragement!
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the industry in the UAE?
Parr: To maintain your sense of unique identity in what is an increasingly competitive market.
Doughty: Delivering high quality schools that are affordable
What are the key milestones in your career so far?
Parr: I was appointed as a headteacher at the age of 35, which was an achievement for my age.
Later, whilst acting as a consultant for a local authority I published a research paper with the National College for School leadership, on developing young leaders, which was circulated to all schools in the U.K.
Doughty: Delivering my first ever lesson as a trainee teacher and realizing I was ‘home’ and this was the career for me.
Moving abroad from a top UK Girls Boarding school was a giant leap of faith. Giving up a secure and comfortable teaching post in a place where longevity was an expectation to move on to the unknown…I’ve never looked back.
Being part of the JESS start up and now JAS start up team have to be the most amazing and exciting opportunities I’ve ever had.
What do you think is your greatest achievement, in education, to date - and why?
Parr: To be appointed as the Principal of Jebel Ali School having been involved in its concept, design and delivery. Welcoming our school community into our new premises was a proud day indeed.
Doughty: Still loving my job and the education environment! I also have a great feeling of pride when I see the establishments I have worked or still work in and knowing that these schools have helped students have a happy and successful experience of education and allowed them to get on the pathway to their goals and dreams.
Name three things which get you up and motivate you each day?
Parr: Every day is different and varied so that it makes life interesting. This is a profession where you can think creatively and innovatively and encourage yourself and others to look for new ways of learning and teaching.
I like the challenge that being a leader brings and working with the pupils and staff.
That each day there is something to be celebrated and an achievement made, no matter how small.
Doughty: Students – interaction with them is always uplifting and enjoyable. They can be hilarious and challenging in the same interaction!
Colleagues – It’s a pleasure to work with committed and driven staff. Its lovely to see young staff grow into great teachers and conversely watching the more experienced staff learning from their younger counterparts – casting off old habits and being brave!
Being grateful for all I have and therefore embracing it all with enthusiasm…the glass is full!
What would you still like to achieve in your professional life?
Parr: To see Jebel Ali School go from strength to strength as we expand the primary into secondary.
Doughty: I would love to see the inaugural JAS Yr7 cohort graduate out of Yr13 – then I can retire!
What is your advice for others hoping to emulate your success?
Parr: To believe in yourself and to relish change. Never be afraid to try something new, be a risk taker.
To always look for the positive and be solutions focused.
I would say that you should be true to yourself and your own moral compass; decisions that are made with integrity are usually the right ones.
Doughty: Be open to change and new ideas but always remain honest and transparent to the people in the community that you work in.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of working in education?
Parr: To be part of a community based on giving young people the chance to succeed in life.
Doughty: Working with students and staff – they are resilient, creative, honest and humorous. You can pretty much guarantee that no two days are the same.